Workplace rights for  felons

Finding employment after serving time in prison can be an uphill battle. Many employers are reluctant to hire applicants with a criminal record which leads to extremely high unemployment rates among felons. However, laws at both the federal and state level aim to prevent discrimination and provide certain protections in the hiring process. Here is an overview of the workplace rights felons hold in the USA.

Ban the Box Laws

One common barrier for felons entering the job market is being required to check a box indicating past convictions on job applications. This often leads applications being dismissed before the qualifications are considered. 

To increase fair chance employment, 35 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted ‘Ban the Box‘ laws. These regulations prohibit employers from including questions about criminal history on initial applications. The aim is to prevent biased decisions before an interview. Employers can still conduct background checks and ask about convictions later in the hiring process.

Federal Laws and Protections 

Under federal law, employers cannot have an absolute bar on hiring felons. The Civil Rights Act states employers cannot use blanket discriminatory policies against protected classes including race, religion, gender or national origin. Automatically rejecting felons could go against this workplace rights for felons law if it leads to disproportionate exclusion of minorities.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) also offers protections when employers conduct background checks by requiring notification and securing authorization. There are rules around ensuring the accuracy of records and handling discrepancies.

State Laws 

Many states offer additional protections that build upon federal laws. For example, some ban asking about conviction history until a conditional job offer is made. Over 10 states prohibit consideration of arrests not followed by convictions. Others limit how far back employers can look at records or seal low-level offenses after a certain time period. 

Knowing the specific laws in your state is crucial to understand workplace rights for felons in the hiring process. This can empower you to appeal if you feel unfairly treated due to your past convictions.

Remaining Vigilant

While progress has been made, discrimination against felons continues. It’s important to remain vigilant when job searching. Consult local resources on workforce re-entry and seek legal counsel if your rights under Ban the Box or other laws are violated. With preparation and perseverance, you can successfully clear hurdles and get back into the workforce.

These laws, bestowed by the government to safeguard the rights of felons, deserve awareness and understanding. If you’re seeking resources to learn about workplace rights for felons and their implications, reach out to Reecareer for assistance.

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